With off campus lunches and breaks during school hours, the businesses in the Haight have a big impact on the lives of Urban students. However, what is less obvious is the impact that Urban students and faculty have on these businesses. Many students from the Urban School are walking around the neighborhood every day with money in their pockets, creating opportunities for the businesses in the neighborhood to establish their customer base.
Amel is the co-owner of Amal’s Deli, the family-run market most commonly referred to as “the Corner Store” by Urban School students. Every day of the week, Amal’s Deli receives about 20 to 30 kids from the Urban School, most of them buying a snack or a drink. Each small purchase adds up significantly, and for a small business like Amal’s Deli, it makes a meaningful impact. “You guys help keep us going,” said Amel. Amel feels that the deli and the Urban community have a much greater connection than just a store and its customers. “I talk to a lot of kids of your school,” she said, “I always keep an eye on you guys, as a mother and not as a business women because I do care about you.”
Over the twenty two years that Amal’s Deli has been in the neighborhood, Amel and her two brothers have not only gotten used to Urban School student’s frequent pit stops, but have grown quite fond of them in a very familiar way. The impact is not a one sided thing, Amel says, “[students] who graduated and went to college are still visiting us.” Feelings like these represent how big of an effect seemingly meaningless routines can have on relationships.
Alex, owner of Hippie Thai Street Food, also recognizes the Urban community’s impact on his restaurant. For a popular restaurant like Hippie Thai Street Food, there is abundant business coming from tourists, specifically during the tourist season in the summer. When Urban starts back at school again, Alex says, “[business] picks up for us and a sizable amount of our income for lunch at least comes from the school, so it’s a vital part of our income and our customer base.” Although the Urban School doesn’t make up the majority of their profit, students still play an important role for their business during the school year.
According to Mia ‘19, “school would suck a lot more” without the shops that we have access to, and they depend on us as well. Every day as Urban School students walk onto Haight Street in search of morning coffees, lunches, or afternoon snacks, the impact of their purchases has a great effect on the small shops that create the vibrant Haight neighborhood.